Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell

When I first picked up Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, I wasn't entirely aware that it was a collection of some of his pieces written for The New Yorker--all I knew was that I had enjoyed Outliers and the woman who worked at the Barnes and Noble said that What the Dog Saw was very popular... note, she didn't say that it was good, she said it was purchased a lot, presumably by people who hadn't yet read it.

That isn't to say that it wasn't good, but as it was a collection of stand-alone pieces over the course of several years, it was a little less organized from a big-picture point of view than I would have liked.  While several of the pieces stood out as particulary interesting (most notably, from my point of view, "Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity?" and "Something Borrowed: Should a Charge of Plagiarism Ruin Your Life?"), there was little in the way of an overarching theme that encompassed every piece in the book, and the So what? factor was lacking.  In addition, I think that the essays in the final section of the book would have served better as an introduction to some of the ideas discussed in the essays in the first section, so that a different order may have been a little more coherent to a reader who was not yet exposed to some of the issues he was discussing.

On the other hand, What the Dog Saw would make excellent airport reading, as each piece stands alone, and the book can be picked up and put down fairly easily with little commitment.  Therefore, depending on what you're hoping to get from your book reading experience, What the Dog Saw will either prove to be perfect or slightly lacking. 

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